The 2021 Black British Theatre Awards took place this Sunday 21st November at the illustrious Old Finsbury Town Hall, London. Theatre, the coveted awards was decided entirely by public vote on the night with an admirable big phat Greek dose of the best of best the UK theatre industry has to offer and alongside influencers and other notable talent, like classical music’s finest guest presenter Verdi Soprano Nadine Benjamin and Shirley Thompson. Beverley Knight attended with the cast of new musical The Drifters.
British actor and voice artist Derek Griffiths MBE who has appeared in a considerable breath of British television was awarded the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD.
The 2021 Black British Theatre Awards was an elegant night hosted by Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award-Winner, and two-time Academy Award Nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) and Black Panther, Star Wars and Killing Eve actor Danny Sapani.
Guest presenters included renowned names in theatre: Jason Pennycooke (Moulin Rouge!, Hamilton, Memphis, Rocketman), Miriam-Teak Lee (Hamilton, & Juliet), Dawn Hope (Follies, The Scottsboro Boys, Porgy and Bess, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks), Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE (Interim CEO- Eclipse Theatre Company), Mzz Kimberley/Kim Tatum (‘Straight White Men’, Southwark Playhouse and ‘I Threw it’, Old Vic), Matthew Xia (Director- Blue/Orange, One Night In Miami, Shebeen, Blood Knot, 846 Live, Family Tree, The Wiz).
More presenters Brenda Emmanus OBE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment Correspondent most recently across BBC London and BBC Network news), Verdi Soprano Nadine Benjamin MBE, Layton Williams (Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, Bad Education, Benidorm, The Cleaner), Ahmet Ahmet (Director of Get Into Theatre).
The 2021 Black British Theatre Awards winners are:
BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Miranda Cromwell, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Femi Temowo, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes, West End Musical Celebration at Palace Theatre
BEST CHOREOGRAPHER AWARD
Ingrid Mackinnon, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE IN A DANCE PRODUCTION AWARD
Joseph Sissens, The Statement, The Royal Ballet
BEST DANCE PRODUCTION AWARD
‘And Still We Dance!’, Afro Dance Xplosion
BEST USE OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Ryan Carter, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies, Barn Theatre
RECOGNITION GROUP (BODY OF WORK)
LIGHT AND SOUND RECOGNITION AWARD
COSTUME DESIGN RECOGNITION AWARD
BOOK AND LYRICS RECOGNITION AWARD
MUSICAL DIRECTOR RECOGNITION AWARD
CASTING DIRECTOR RECOGNITION AWARD
LGBTQ+ CHAMPION AWARD
BEST TEACHER OF PERFORMING ARTS AS A SUBJECT AWARD
Ashley Campbell, British Theatre Academy
BEST RECENT GRADUATE AWARD
Natasha May-Thomas, Urdang Academy
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Derek Griffiths MBE
BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
David Jonsson, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Isabel Adomakoh Young, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Andrew French, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Aretha Ayeh, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST PRODUCTION PLAY
and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD
Ivano Turco, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre
BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD
Lucy St. Louis, The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD
Caleb Roberts, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL AWARD
Natasha May-Thomas, Carousel, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION AWARD
West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre
A key aspect of this year’s awards is to acknowledge and celebrate the legacy of Black theatre trailblazers who have shaped the UK’s performing arts landscape. A touching interview and tribute will honour national treasure and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Derek Griffiths. It will feature contributions from cross-generational UK talent who will speak of how Derek’s theatre training shaped his multidisciplinary genius that has led to a 5-decade career across stage,TV and film; and how his presence as a Black man on children’s TV programme Play School transformed their ideas of what was possible for them as Black British performers.
As theatre navigates an important juncture with the focus on cultural recovery and authentic representation across on stage and behind the scenes, the awards will spotlight dynamic theatre that thrives, diverse representation and pushing through boundaries with the Best Use of Innovation & Technology and LGBTQ+ Champion awards.
The Black British Theatre Awards runs an annual Outreach programme providing young Black talent with access to leading performers, productions and experiences. The programme helps Black children to develop their capabilities in performance, as well as, behind the scenes leadership and creative roles. The empowerment of future generations will be acknowledged during the ceremony with the Best Teacher of Performing Arts as a Subject Award and the Best Graduate Award.
The 2021 Black British Theatre Awards are sponsored by: Spotlight, Royal Opera House, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, The Really Useful Group, Link Talent, Guildford School of Acting – University of Surrey, Bird College, Conservatoire for Dance and Musical Theatre, Galloways Agency, Michael, Harrison Entertainment, The Urdang, Italia Conti, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and One Dance UK.
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